Rural Alaska

Troopers: Man shoots police officer in Chevak, then kills himself

A man in the Western Alaska village of Chevak shot and wounded a police officer Wednesday evening before killing himself, according to Alaska State Troopers.

A trooper statement issued Thursday morning identified the deceased suspect as 24-year-old Harold Paniyak. Troopers subsequently identified the wounded officer as 40-year-old Derrick McDonald.

"Initial reports indicate (Paniyak) shot a village police officer," troopers wrote. "Paniyak then took his own life. (McDonald) was medevaced to an Anchorage hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries."

Paniyak's next of kin were at the scene when he died, troopers said.

Word of the incident first reached troopers at about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday. Bethel-based troopers traveled to Chevak to investigate, with assistance from the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. The community was on lockdown for a time Wednesday night, said Mayor Richard Tuluk.

Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said in an email nothing further on the circumstances leading up to the shootings was immediately available. McDonald was recuperating from the shooting Thursday afternoon.

"Last I checked, he was still in the recovery portion of things," Peters said.

City of Chevak officials declined immediate comment on the shooting Thursday morning.

Peters said village police officers, who are hired by communities using local funds and grants, differ from village public safety officers hired by regional Alaska Native organizations using state funding.

VPOs and VPSOs interested in carrying firearms can do so, Peters said, with the support of their communities and appropriate training.

Chevak, a Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta community of about 1,000 people, is about 17 miles east of Hooper Bay.

 

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.

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